Saturday, August 1, 2020

By His Majesty's Grace by Jennifer Blake

DNF @ p.118

I'm learning that when it comes to romance reviews, I should probably trust my friends. This is the second romance I've picked up this week that my friends all hated... and yeah, having read it myself, everything they say was 100% valid for me, sadly.

Jennifer Blake/Patricia Maxwell is one of my FAVORITE historical romance authors ever and I've basically made it my mission to persuade all of my friends to read her. She's primarily known for her Southern romance novels and Southern Gothics, so it was a little weird to see her trying her hand at Tudor fiction. Almost as weird as Philippa Gregory abandoning Tudor fiction and writing a Gothic novel (oh wait-- she did do that, I see you Wideacre.)

This book is set during the reign of Henry VII. Our hero, Rand, is a nobleman, who is given Isabel as a sort of "present" for his loyalty to the crown. Arranged marriage? YAS. Initially, I was super into this because the hero was the perfect blend of strong and caring, which we see when he creates a splint for her broken finger. She doesn't want to marry him, though, so i seems like a hidden blessing when Rand is accused of a crime that might result in his death.

I guess there were several things that didn't work for me. I didn't mind the overt sexuality of the hero as much as some of my friends did, but I didn't like Isabel. I didn't really get why she was so opposed to Rand, who was actually... really nice? I mean, I get that being given away like a Happy Meal Prize sucks but in the context of the times. this was pretty typical. The writing was also way too purple and didn't feel natural-- it felt like the author was trying too hard to be "historical" in tone, whereas her 19th century narratives flow much more naturally, even if they can be embellished. It works.

Lastly... the story was just dull. The hero and heroine don't really have chemistry and the storyline was so plodding and bogged down by the narrative that I couldn't get into it at all.

I love Jennifer Blake/Patricia Maxwell and will continue to read her work, but I am done with this series.

1.5 to 2 out of 5 stars

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